Ija'tz (which means "seed" in Kaqchikel) is a community organization made up of indigenous Maya Kaqchiquel-Tzútuhil families. The cooperative has around 50 members, 40% of whom are women. Along with gender equity, Ija'tz is also committed to good environmental practices. In recent years, the expansion of the town of San Lucas Tolimán and the encroaching development has had negative effects on the town's ability to handle water runoff and prevent flooding, and members of the cooperative have been involved in finding an environmentally sustainable solution to dealing with urbanization and protecting the community.
Since we first visited Ija'tz earlier this year, DLG has been laying the groundwork for closer collaboration, based on the model of our successful work with the La Suiza cooperative last year. This week, members of the De La Gente team met with the board of directors of Ija'tz, in order to review plans for this year and sign our first coffee contract for the coming harvest. The cooperative will produce a small lot of about 30 quintales of pergamino (parchment) coffee, equivalent to about 2,100 lbs or 15 sacks of green coffee). DLG will provide training and guidance on production techniques to ensure that Ija'tz has the capacity to produce a lot that meets the standards for specialty coffee. This partnership will give Ija'tz a direct entry into the foreign market, an important step for creating coffee-driven economic opportunity. If you're a roaster, ask us about reserving coffee for the coming year, and coffee drinkers can look for a limited supply of Ija'tz coffee in 2016!